Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Language in the Real World

We'll take a break, for a day, from my enthusiasm for anti-procrastination practice and patting myself on the back for getting a very small amount of daily writing done, because, well, The Real World calls. And that shit is important.

You know, of course, that when I say The Real World, I don't by any means refer to that threat of a distant land where uppity college students are sent after they fail our classes and then get the dean to reverse the grade. Because that Real World, my friends, is a fantasy. Instead, I refer to the much more banal, ever-present Real World that exists on your television; the one that started it all; THE Real World, season 4870, on MTV.

So, I have to admit, even the Fluff part of me can't really take the Real World anymore. It seems to me--and this might well be a function of age--that only the places change, while the people (actors? characters? what do you CALL them?!) stay exactly the same, season after season. I think I officially handed in my beach towel after San Diego, which kicked off a trend of bar fights and arrests. [Interestingly enough, I think the cause of the fight and incipient arrest was the locals taunting the cast members. Not only a beautiful example of the fourth wall being broken down, but also of harrassment for their 2.3 minutes of fame. Hee.] And, as a side note, did the network heads at MTV decide that they're only going to film in hot places now, so as to maximize the chances of nakedness? Remember when RW used to be filmed in cold places like New York, or Boston, or London? Now it's all Austin, Las Vegas, San Diego. Season 4871--Real World: Kuala Lumpur...

Okay, so here's the thing that I saw as I toggled between Flip This House to Lost and Delirious (featuring a fetus-aged Mischa Barton, I might add. The film is actually ONLY interesting for that). I landed on an episode of Real World: Key West, in which two roommates were constantly referring back to an argument about some godawful thing (the substance of which was never actually discussed), defending their own positions to their other roommates, justifying their existences with winning lines that began with "the thing about me is...". If you've seen one episode, you've seen them all.

But wait!! Here's the best thing! So Janelle, dressed in a tank top and a waistband of a denim miniskirt, is in the process of explaining herself to one of her roommates (the entire time, she speaks to the mirror as she does her hair. Hmmm. If this were a novel, I'd condemn it for its overt symbolism). And she says, and God I wish I had a direct quote here: "He's mad because I'm self-confident, and he's insecure." Right, big surprise. You're no Coral, Janelle! But here it is---wait for it: "He's just looking for an escapegoat..."

Aw yeah, that's right--it's not a typo. An "escapegoat." Janelle is a freakin' SAVANT. Which of us doesn't need an escapegoat? Isn't it actually a more truthful rendering of the ways that scapegoating works? It draws attention more to he who needs the (now outdated term) "scapegoat" than the one who is painted with that brush.

All of Janelle's egomaniacal solipsism aside (and that's a big ol' mountain to push to the margin), she's a neologistic genius. Like Foucault, without all of the theory and social critique.


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